Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and fifth installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
Click here for Part 1 of this week's legends.
It was reported that Howard the Duck received thousands of write-in votes for President in 1976
Reader Marc D. wrote in to ask if I could get to the bottom of a fact that Stan Lee once shared about Howard the Duck's run for President of the United States in 1976.
Howard the Duck received his own comic book series in late 1975. In early 1976, in the letter column for the fourth issue, Steve Gerber (Howard's creator) revealed that the Duck would be running for President of the United States in 1976.
The campaign, as it was, was essentially just an excuse for a sort of Howard the Duck fan club deal, as you would send in money to get some Bernie Wrightson-drawn Howard the Duck for President merchandise...
The sew-on patch was the most famous part, but Wrightson also did a print.
In any event, write-in campaigns for famous (or fictional) people are often a source of great legends. This is because people tend not to check out claims you make about how candidate X did. For instance, I did a legend years ago about how the famous radio comedienne, Gracie Allen, and her run for President as part of the "Surprise Party" in 1940. Like Howard the Duck, it was a joke campaign.
This differed from comedian Dick Gregory, who also ran as a write-in candidate, but the difference is that Gregory's write-in campaign followed the rules for write-in campaigns where you register as an official write-in candidate, in which case you are actually eligible to theoretically be elected President and your results are tallied. Thus, we know that Dick Gregory did pretty darn well in the 1968 Presidential Election (even though he was also mistakenly reported to have done REALLY well in one state at one point on Election Night).
Gracie Allen and Howard the Duck, though, as joke candidates (one of which being fictional, to boot), did not officially register as write-in candidates, and as such, any votes for them were not officially reported.
Because of that fact, we don't officially know who voted for either candidate in 1940 (when Allen ran) or 1976 (when Howard the Duck ran). Famously, people often write-in "Mickey Mouse" or "Donald Duck" for protest votes, and it is very possible that people did the same with Howard the Duck in 1976, but said votes were not registered.
Years ago, I debunked the idea that Howard the Duck did well enough to register on the national polls, and now I think I can also debunk the claim by Stan Lee in Les Daniels' Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics, that "the duck received thousands of write-in votes when he ran for President of the United States against Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in 1976."
There were 38,087 write-in votes recorded in 1976, and the vast majority of them were for official independent candidates who were not on the ballot in every state. There just does not appear to be enough votes for Howard the Duck to have received even a thousand votes, but even if there were, Lee would not know it, because, again, non-registered write-in candidates did not get their results reported.
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed - Were H.R. Giger's designs for Alien too freaky for United States Customs?
Check back later for the final part of this week's Comic Book Legends Revealed!